DUI – What Offenses Can Be Filed?
Joey, let’s say I’m pulled over for a DUI, what offenses can I be charged with?
Joey: There are five DUI in Mississippi charges. You have the DUI refusal, which means you refused to take the test. You have a DUI first offense, which means this is your first offense DUI. You have a DUI second offense, which means this is your second DUI within a five year period. Then, you have a DUI third offense, which means this is your third DUI or more in a five year period. Lastly, you have an aggravated DUI, which is a felony in Mississippi along with the third offense. The aggravated one means you hurt somebody, whether it was in an accident or something along those lines and you were drinking above the legal limits.
Let’s say it’s my first DUI. Can the officer take my license?
Joey: Not only can the officer take your license, they will take your Mississippi license. They will hand you a piece of paper that says you have 30 days to go to trial or your license will be suspended. What that means is you have 30 days to get an attorney and have the attorney set it for trial. In the event the court cannot hear your case within 30 days, and you are not trying to drag it out, your attorney can move to have the time period extended until the date the court can hear your case. However, your license will be taken at the time you are arrested.
Can I represent myself during proceedings? How does retaining a lawyer help me?
Joey: I always tell everyone I can replace the engine in my truck, but I’m probably going to mess it up, because I’m not a mechanic. You can represent yourself, but should you? The answer is most definitely no, you should not. I have seen more people convicted in courts trying to represent themselves and it’s not because they are illiterate or anything like that. The cold hard fact is they don’t know the law and they don’t know the rules of evidence. They don’t know the supreme court ruling about operating an automobile. As an attorney who practices in DUI, these are the things I keep up with and leverage for my clients to get them the best possible outcome. While you absolutely have the right to represent yourself, it’s one of those situations where quite often you’re better off and it’s cheaper to go ahead and hire an attorney from day one who knows what they are doing in the DUI world.
What’s the cost?
Joey: The cost varies. It depends on the charges. It’s very rare that I see just a DUI first offense charge. That’s because they have to have some kind of probable cause to stop an individual. Aside from it being a roadblock issue, there’s usually a speeding ticket, a failure to use the blinker ticket, careless operation; some small ticket that goes along with it. Often, not only do you get that small ticket and the DUI, they are also searching your vehicle and looking in it with flashlights to see if there’s any kind of drugs or drug paraphernalia. Quite often, people will have three, four, five charges going along with the DUI. The more charges you have, obviously the cost goes up exponentially.
But, there aren’t many reputable DUI Attorneys Ridgeland MS that will handle a DUI case in Mississippi for less than $2,000. That’s because you don’t how much time you’re going to have to put into it on the front end. I might show up in court and be able to resolve the issue within an hour with the prosecutor. There have been times I’ve sat in the courtroom for 10 hours just waiting for my case to be called. On top of that, there’s legal research and prepping the client and explaining to them all their options. Because as an DUI Attorney Madison MS, our job is to give the client all the information and let the client make the decision on which way they want to go. Then we, as attorneys, direct the case in the direction the client wants.
What are some of defense options?
Joey: There are a lot of defense options with a DUI. You have to start by looking at the reason for the stop. Is there reasonable suspicion or probable cause to stop the individual? From there, the officer has to be able to articulate that he smelled the odor of intoxicating beverage. That’s normally the language they use. Or, they observe the individual with some impairments, slurred speech, things like that. Then, there’s the field sobriety test, but these tests are designed for people to fail and they’re quite intricate and difficult to explain. Quite often officers miss or mess up the cues or they mess up the standardization of the test, which would make it invalid.
The breathalyzer, the one they give you on the side of the road, really doesn’t matter. Its sole purpose is for probable cause. What’s going to matter is the big one at the police station. Is the officer certified on that machine? Has that machine been certified as being accurate? When was the last time that machine was calibrated? All those are things a DUI attorney will work his way through to your day of trial. If the officer doesn’t show up for trial, well then you have a right to confront your accusers. In this case, your accuser is the state who is represented by that police officer and that is a defense to have your case dismissed. There are a multitude of defenses in a DUI case.
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